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2018 NFL Draft Battles: Justin Reid vs. Jessie Bates

Let the battle begin!

NCAA Football: Belk Bowl-Wake Forest vs Texas A&M Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and NFL fan bases are debating which prospect will best fit their team to help them improve next season. For Pittsburgh Steelers fans, these debates can be heated, to say the least.

This series will take two players from a position of need, and prospects who could be there when the Steelers pick in the first round, and see who thinks is a better fit for the black-and-gold.

Where do we go next? Safety, of course.

The Steelers have shown a lot of interest in both of these athletes, and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the team to draft a safety early in the draft. The free agent signing of Morgan Burnett doesn’t make this need as huge as it was just a few weeks ago, but the Steelers will want to add to their current safety depth chart, and a lot of buzz comes with both Justin Reid of Stanford, and Jessie Bates III from Wake Forest.

Reminder: This isn’t an exercise to see which player is the better athlete, but an exercise to suggest which prospect will be the best fit for the Steelers.

Let’s get to it...

Justin Reid

Height: 6’1”
Weight: 204lbs.
School: Stanford

NFL Draft Profile:

Reid is what teams are looking for at the safety position in 2018. He’s a plus size/speed prospect who has the athletic ability to help with man coverage and the instincts and ball skills for ball-hawking duties on the back end. Reid can get himself into some trouble when he’s overly aggressive, but his positive plays far outweigh the negative. He has the talent to become an early starter and a good one. Reid’s instincts and play traits should make him a safe selection with Pro Bowl potential down the road.


  • Offers excellent versatility
  • Good football intelligence
  • Plays with rapid response to motion and formation shifts
  • Rarely caught out of position
  • Shows ability to excel up top or near the box
  • Able to line up over the top of slots and drag tight ends around the field as well
  • Stays deeper than deepest from single high coverage
  • Works with NFL-caliber recognition to reaction time
  • Has speed and anticipation to range over top and challenge the catch
  • Impressive ball skills
  • Can sink and scoop low throws or elevate and take away the jump ball
  • Physical challenges to the catch point
  • Sprints hard from high to low to handle run support
  • Eludes blockers in space
  • Tough enough for box duties
  • Runs the alley and smothers running backs
  • Reliable wrap and drag tackler


  • Backpedal is rigid and slow to gain ground
  • Will get beat by quicker slot receivers
  • Gets behind in coverage on crossing routes
  • Grabby at the top of the route rather than trusting the technique
  • Willingness to gamble with his eyes can lead to big-play opportunities for offense
  • Play-fakes can bait him early in the play
  • Downhill angles on the throw are a little inconsistent
  • Comes in hot as a tackler
  • Needs to improve ability coming to balance to avoid misses on the next level

Jessie Bates III

Height: 6’1”
Weight: 200lbs.
School: Wake Forest

NFL Draft Profile:


Impressive fluidity for a safety with smooth hips and sudden feet. Quick in coverage transitions. Can line up over top of slots. Has pattern recognition to shade the breaks. Instinctive. Processes quarterback at same speed quarterback is processing field. Instant trigger to the throw. No stall at the top on his plant-and-drive. Sprints to potential pass target after recognizing play-action. Excellent route balance from zone. High school outfielder and hooper with plus ball tracking and ball skills. Can take it away and take it to the house. Volume tackler who is drawn to the football. Runs the alley and finishes with force. Has versatility to be utilized in a variety of coverages and alignments.


Has just two years of game experience. Needs more meat on his bones. Plays bigger than his frame raising durability concerns. Needs to play with better discipline in deep coverage responsibilities. Sniffs around on misdirection and will allow routes to get beyond him. Doesn’t have a big second gear in his closing burst. Angles to the ball in coverage and as a tackler need work. Inconsistent tackler due to leverage issues. Overpursues and allows runners to cut back across his face.


After perusing the above information, it is time to make your decision. If you are Kevin Colbert and/or Mike Tomlin and both Reid and Bates are available, who do you take? Let us know by voting in the poll below, and feel free to explain your vote in the comment section below!


Who would you take with the 28th pick of both were available?

This poll is closed

  • 78%
    Justin Reid (Stanford)
    (1219 votes)
  • 21%
    Jessie Bates III (Wake Forest)
    (336 votes)
1555 votes total Vote Now

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Leighton Vander Esch vs. Rashaan Evans